Bloomberg News

U.S. Gasoline Falls to Three-Month Low, Lundberg Survey Shows

May 21, 2012

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations fell to the lowest in almost three months, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

The price declined to $3.7833 a gallon in the two weeks through May 18, the lowest since the period ended Feb. 24, according to data from about 2,500 stations surveyed by the Camarillo, California-based company. The price is down 6.19 cents in the past two weeks and is 12.41 cents lower than a year earlier, when the average was $3.9074. Prices peaked this year at $3.9671 during the two weeks ended April 6.

“The falling crude-oil price has allowed this slide in the gasoline price,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “The weakness in the U.S. and European economies discourages the crude-oil price. We can expect another decline as the most probable direction.”

Prices at the pump fell as West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange slid $7.01, or 7.1 percent, to $91.48 a barrel in the two weeks ended May 18. Futures are at the lowest level since Oct. 26 and have declined 17 percent since reaching a year-to-date high of $109.77 on Feb. 24.

Gasoline futures for June delivery on the Nymex sank 8.63 cents, or 2.9 percent, during the period to $2.8895. Gasoline has lost 15 percent since reaching a 2012 high of $3.4166 on March 26. Futures are up 7.6 percent this year.

Growth Outlook

Futures have fallen on concern that the European debt crisis is worsening and on signs economic growth in the U.S. and China is slowing, threatening to curb fuel demand.

European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn warned Greece on May 18 that the EU would continue to demand budget discipline after a June 17 election that could increase the risk of the nation’s exit from the euro monetary system.

Rehn said Greece must stick to a spending-cut agreement that Syriza, a Greek party that came in second in an inconclusive election on May 6, wants to renegotiate. Syriza forced the new vote by refusing to help form a unity government.

Industrial production in the 17-nation euro area slipped 0.3 percent in March from February, when it advanced 0.8 percent, according to data from the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg. In China, factory production grew 9.3 percent in April, the smallest increase since 2009.

Oil Decline

The index of U.S. leading indicators unexpectedly fell in April, indicating the pace of economic expansion may slow. The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months decreased 0.1 percent after a 0.3 percent gain in March, the New York-based group said on May 17.

Oil may decline further this week on concern that the reversal of the Seaway pipeline won’t be enough to alleviate a record supply glut in the central U.S., a Bloomberg survey showed.

Nineteen of 34 analysts, or 56 percent, forecast oil will drop through May 25. Nine respondents, or 26 percent, predicted prices will rise and six estimated they will be little changed. Last week, 48 percent of surveyed analysts expected a decrease.

Enbridge Inc. and Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD:US) completed the pipeline reversal on May 18 and began accepting shipments of oil May 19 from Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI, to the Gulf Coast. U.S. oil inventories rose to a 22-year high and Cushing stockpiles reached a record in the week ended May 11 as domestic output increased, according to the Energy Department.

On Long Island, regular gasoline fell to $3.94 a gallon, according to Lundberg. Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $4.35.

The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the cities surveyed was in San Francisco, where the average was $4.36 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Memphis, Tennessee, where customers paid an average of $3.34 a gallon.

To contact the reporters on this story: Barbara J Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net; Moming Zhou in New York at mzhou29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net


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